Italian Cookies (Italian Christmas Cookies)

These anise flavored Italian cookies are frosted with a delicious glaze and sprinkles and are a Christmas favorite! They can either be made into swirled little cookies or drop cookies.

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I don’t know about you, but Christmas fever has definitely set off in our house! And these yummy Italian Christmas cookies are one of the best festive treats around.

Crunchy on the outside and secretly soft on the inside, they certainly remind me of a few people I know! This Italian take on the traditional classic Christmas cookie is one of my new-to-me favorites and it’s a great way to add something new to your festive treat selection, like eggnog cookies or Hershey’s Kiss cookies.

Italian Cookies (Italian Christmas Cookies)

Italian Christmas Cookies

These soft, buttery anise flavored cookies are a new addition to my baking list this year. While recipes vary with these cookies – you can use almond or vanilla extract if you desire- we LOVED finding a black licorice flavored cookie for Mr. Magpie to enjoy! I actually made these cookies for Christmas last year and forgot to photograph them before they were eaten from the freezer! So now almost a year later I am getting then done for you!

The sprinkles can be green and red for Christmas, but I find that most people still just use the traditional rainbow ones. It’s a nice visual change on your cookie platter too!

Italian Christmas cookie ingredients

How to Make Italian Christmas Cookies

  1. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
  2. Cream the butter and white sugar in a large mixing bowl until light and creamy.
  3. Add the eggs and mix well, then mix in the anise extract.
  4. Mix in the dry ingredients until you get a firm dough that’s only slightly sticky.
  5. Place in refrigerator for 1 hour.
  6. Scoop out the cookies onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  7. Bake at 375 degrees for around 10 minutes or until the bottom is lightly browned.
  8. Remove the cookies and place on a wire baking rack.
  9. Let the cookies cool before glazing.

Step 2: Making the Anise Glaze

  1. Combine the icing ingredients until just smooth.
  2. Dip the tops of the cookies into the glaze, return to the rack, and allow the glaze to drip down the sides of the cookies.
  3. Place sprinkles over the top of the wet glaze.
  4. Store in a closed container once the glaze is dry.

Italian Christmas cookies on a baking rack

Can You Freeze Italian Christmas Cookies?

Yep! You can freeze both the finished cookie recipe and the raw dough. The baked cookies will keep frozen in an airtight container for up to a year! If you want to freeze the raw dough you’ll need to use it within about 2 months, though.

Don’t Overbake Your Cookies!

These cookies really shouldn’t come out browned on top; if they do, they’ve been overcooked and won’t taste too good – trust me. Keep an eye on them and remove them from the oven as soon as the bottom edges have browned.

Italian Christmas with a bite taken out of it

Make Sure the Glaze Isn’t Too Thin

It’s important to get a nice thick glaze for these cookies so they get that lovely opaque presentation. If the glaze isn’t thick enough it won’t turn out white so make sure you don’t add too much milk at the start, start with one teaspoon.

Italian Christmas cookies and milk

More Christmas Cookies Ideas

I make so many different types of cookies during the holiday season but here are some favorites!

TIP: You can find anise at your local Italian grocer – I still have mind left from last year, I have many batches left in that one small bottle! If you don’t like anise then try almond next, then vanilla. Almond is second best for sure!

Happy baking!



Italian Cookies (Italian Christmas Cookies)

These anise flavored Italian cookies are frosted with a delicious glaze and sprinkles and are a Christmas favorite! They can either be made into swirled little cookies or drop cookies.
5 from 7 votes
Christmas Cookies
Karlynn Johnston


  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon anise extract or almond or vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Anise Glaze

  • 1 1/2 cups icing/powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp cream half and half or whipping cream
  • 1/4 tsp anise extract
  • 2 tbsp melted salted butter


  • In a bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  • In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and white sugar until light and creamy.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well. Mix in the anise extract.
  • Mix in the dry ingredients by hand until dough is firm and only slightly sticky, adding more flour if necessary.
  • Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  • Using a tablespoon sized cookie scoop, scoop out the cookies onto a parchment lined baking sheet, leaving about 1.5 inches between the cookies.
  • Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes (the bottom should be lightly browned but the tops should remain light).
  • Remove the cookies to a wire baking rack and cool completely before glazing.
  • Anise Flavored Glaze
  • Combine the Icing ingredients in a bowl until just smooth. You want it more thick than thin, but still runny.
  • Dip the tops of the cooled cookies into the glaze, then return to the wire rack, allowing the glaze to drip down the sides of the cookie.
  • Top with sprinkles, while glaze is still wet.
  • Let the glaze dry, then store in a closed container.

Recipe Notes

  • These cookies can be refreshed with a bread slice in their container! If you find that they dried out or you over baked them, simply store in a closed container with a fresh bread slice and they soften back up!
  • You can find anise extract at your local Italian grocer

Nutrition Information

Calories: 150kcal, Carbohydrates: 27g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 30mg, Sodium: 59mg, Potassium: 52mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 19g, Vitamin A: 137IU, Calcium: 20mg, Iron: 1mg

All calories and info are based on a third party calculator and are only an estimate. Actual nutritional info will vary with brands used, your measuring methods, portion sizes and more.

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These anise flavored Italian cookies are frosted with a delicious glaze and sprinkles and are a Christmas favorite! They can either be made into swirled little cookies or drop cookies.

Karlynn Johnston

I’m a busy mom of two, wife & cookbook author who loves creating fast, fresh meals for my little family on the Canadian prairies. Karlynn Facts: I'm allergic to broccoli. I've never met a cocktail that I didn't like. I would rather burn down my house than clean it. Most of all, I love helping YOU get dinner ready because there's nothing more important than connecting with our loved ones around the dinner table!

Learn more about me

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Comments & Recipe Tips Share a tip or comment!

  1. Kristin says

    Holy cow these were amazing! I made using almond instead of anise extract and they were the star of all my Christmas baking. Wouldn’t change a thing. Thanks for this great recipe!5 stars

  2. Carina says

    AMAZING! GReat recipe. I made Italian Christmas cookies using a different recipe for over 10 years. This year I tried your recipe and they are the best I ever made! Thanks k you so much!!!!5 stars

  3. Audrey says

    Can you use the almond or vanilla extract for the glaze instead of the anise?

  4. Barbara says

    Says 1-2 tsp. Milk in the cookie dough. Is it needed?

    • Karlynn Johnston says

      Hi Barbara, that was the icing glaze, I’ve removed it!

  5. Claudia Cacopardo says

    SO excited to see this recipe!

    My heritage is Italian and we have a similar recipe in our family that spans over 50 years. This is by far my favorite Christmas cookie.

    Our recipe is slightly different. We use vegetable oil in lieu of butter. I like my cookie on the dry side hence using more flour than what the recipe calls for.

    Bon Appetito!

    • Karlynn Johnston says

      We were thrilled how delicious they were!

  6. Tamara says

    Will definitely bake these cookies for Christmas. Thanks so much for the recipe! They look super yummy and festive 🎉

    Tamara5 stars

5 from 7 votes (3 ratings without comment)

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